Menhirs - Standing stones


The word ‘menhir’ comes from the Breton word ‘men’ meaning stone, and ‘hir’ meaning long. They are monoliths, less wide than tall, founded vertically in the ground; thus, in English they are known as Standing Stones.

Whether they are markers of grave sites, part of a sun-worshiping cult, or, highly visible boundary stones, is not clear despite various hypotheses.

Archeological excavations in the Wéris area unearthed several menhirs. Some of those found could have been moved and re-buried in the Gallo-Roman period. Some were buried either by earlier Christians wanting to expunge pagan remains, or by farmers in the Middle Ages or later, simply wanting to maximize their area of cultivation.

Archeologists have discovered traces of the pits in which people of the SOM culture some 5000 years ago erected these menhirs. However, not all menhirs could be re-erected where they were found as farmers did not want menhirs present in their fields.

Near to Wéris II, the Dolmen of Oppagne, are 5 menhirs. Three of these were found at the time of the discovery of the dolmen in 1888, whilst the other two were unearthed during archeological excavations in 1986. Further excavations discovered their original pits, enabling these four menhirs to be re-erected in 1997 in their original locations. The original pit of one of the menhirs has not yet been found thus it lies on the ground adjacent to the four erect stones.

La Longue Pierre (the Long Stone) is a slab of rock 3.6 metres high, weighing 8 tons which nowadays is known as the Menhir Danthine. It was discovered in 1947 by archeologist Hélène Danthine buried in the field some 130 metres from its current location. The farmer to whom the field belonged did not want the menhir obstructing his cultivation, so Mme Danthine relocated the menhir to a spot on the road between Barvaux and Erezée in 1948. In 1983, two further menhirs were found in the same field “Champ de la Longue Pierre” – The Long Stone Field. One was broken but its base was still in its original pit. Now re-constructed this menhir is 2.15 metres tall, the other menhir is 2.34 metres. Again, these last two menhirs were not allowed to remain where they were found and in 1984 they were provisionally relocated and lie behind the Dolmen of Wéris.

There are about 30 menhirs in Wéris and the most known are :

Oppagne
Wéris II
La Longue Pierre
Wéris I
Morville
Ozo
Heyd